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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

360               THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

afterwards they get almost the revelation of a difference between
the two occasions and the two different places—as between seed-
time and harvest   The very act of differentiating between similar
actions which have different applications and meanings constitutes
in itself another source of intellectual development.   The child of
four does not miss the difference between the holy-water basin
into which he dips the tip of his slender hand to make the sign of
the Cross and the basin in the next room intended for the washing
of his hands.   These intuitions about differences between similar
thing* is really an intelligent task which the small child, considered
almost incapable of rising to conceptions beyond those of the
senses, is initiating when he begins to feel that he is the son of
God, lovingly entertained in the House of the great Heavenly

Many who disbelieve in such impressions, I had already en-
countered. They said: " Do you know why my little nephew likes
to come to school at the time for Mass? Because you make him
put out the candles in a basin of water. That is all. Would you
not be doing better by applying that pleasing exercise to arithmetic,
taking for example ten lighted candles and then making him put
them out whilst he counted one, two, three, etc.?" How little
spiritual understanding and what slight insight into children did
the critic, who talked to me in this way, possess. The arithmetic
exercise with the candles would have lasted, at most, for a week,
the average time necessary to learn to count from one to ten.
But in the Church, those children, will continue for years to
extinguish the candles which are consumed away as they burn
before Jesus who has descended among them, and will also under-
stand that this is not a childish game, but a religious act which
is performed reverently because it is done in the holy place
pertaining to the worship rendered there to the Lord.

The opinion expressed here is that the child who is interested
in everything is all the more struck by what seems to him sym-
bolical and clothed in majesty. At first the objects—the altar,
the book, the holy vases, the priest's vestments—stand apart, and